Glenn Gaudet ’89 has many memories of performing with the Babson Players in the 1980s. He remembers the people and the cast parties and the peculiarities of putting on shows at Knight Auditorium, which had no curtain or backstage.
Then there was the time the pillars fell. It happened during A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The stage was filled with large Styrofoam pillars, and during a performance, one toppled and knocked down the others like dominoes. The show, however, didn’t stop. “We were literally jumping over these pillars,” Gaudet says. “We kept going with it.”
Generations of actors have performed with the Babson Players, the student-run theater group founded in 1948 as the “Dramatic Club” and rebranded with its current moniker in 1957. “It has become one of the beloved institutions at Babson,” Gaudet says.
For many students through the years, the Players have represented a like-minded tribe of creative people looking for an outlet to express themselves. “There is something about theater folk,” Melony Isaac ’05 says. “We find each other.”
Finding each other could be a godsend. “This group of kind, hilarious, enthusiastic free spirits embraced me and made me feel so seen,” Jacqueline Chambers ’10 says. “The happiest memories I have at Babson are my times with the Players.”
“This group of kind, hilarious, enthusiastic free spirits embraced me and made me feel so seen. The happiest memories I have at Babson are my times with the Players.”
Jacqueline Chambers ’10
Such happiness, though, came with a lot of work. The Players might hold rehearsals several times a week, not to mention the effort spent memorizing lines or helping with costumes or set construction. Then came tech week, the hectic last days before a play’s opening when the Players rehearsed every day late into the night. “Sleep took a back seat, especially during tech week, which was always nuts,” Dan Henderson ’92 says.
Once the rehearsals were over, the thrill of performance waited. “There’s nothing quite like that feeling you have moments before stepping on stage,” Chambers says. “Standing in the dark behind the curtain, all in costume, the anticipation of being in front of an audience—opening night is a magical experience.”
Some former Players are still chasing that magic. Every summer, Players alumni put on a show just like in their college days. Normally held outside Glavin Family Chapel, the production this year has moved online for the second consecutive summer due to the pandemic, a switch that has allowed alumni from around the country to participate.
Professor Richard Mandel may be retired, but he still helps produce the summer show. He served as faculty advisor to the Players for more than 15 years, and he regularly appeared in cameo roles in their productions. “Working directly with all those talented and committed students,” he says, “was truly a gift.”
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